Xhol — Hau Ruk
(Garden of Delights CD 076, 1971/2002, CD)
by Mike McLatchey, 1996-03-01:Amongst the annals of the most psychedelic German rock of the early 70s stand out the legendary Xhol, a band that remains one of the most challenging that that country had to offer. Initially a band playing R&B tinged rock in the vein of Otis Redding or maybe Rare Earth (check out the "So Down/Planet Earth" single by Xhol Caravan if you can find it), by the time the group released a proper album, they had gelled into a formidable unit. For an album from 1969, Electrip was an incredibly groundbreaking release, and unfortunately overlooked. The music is like a psychedelic R&B tinged early period Soft Machine with lengthy jazzy/bluesy instrumental sections fronted by amplified/fuzzed or wah-wah'd sax. The intensity and the feel are what makes this such a bonafide classic. Each jam on the album is worked out perfectly with a variety of solos from flute and sax. Some other pointers would be the early French or Dutch scenes, there are shades of Moving Gelatine Plates and Supersister here, but Xhol Caravan had a distinct acid-drenched feel that is distinctly Teutonic. Dropping "Caravan" from their name, Xhol signed to the Ohr label in 1970 and released the self titled album Xhol (commonly referred to as Hau-Ruk due to the words on the cover) in 1971. Two side long tracks take up the album, both more or less improvisations based around some written material or covers (like their racy version of "Rock Me Baby"). For the most part Xhol had dropped the more overt jazz influences, and the sound is closer to a more underground psych-rock, somewhere in the vein of early Guru Guru or Ash Ra Tempel yet far less refined than even those groups. While this is generally the weakest of the three, it grows on you over time. Motherfuckers GMBH and Co. KG was Xhol's last release and a more focused effort than the previous release. The band had resorted to a lot of effects (interesting use of radio static and other electronics) to augment their sound and the overall effect is of a sonic acid trip. Amongst all of the psychedelic meandering, Xhol's early R&B influence remains and the finale is a great rendition of "Love Potion Number 9." Xhol's crazed vocals, obvious drug influences, and general lasciviousness may not appeal to everyone, but for those into psychedelic krautrock, these are about as good as it gets. Prog fans should check out Electrip and tread carefully afterwards.
by Jon Davis, 2005-03-01:When you think of German rock of the 70s, you’re likely to think of extended spacey jams with effects devices in evidence and a bit of jazzy flavor. Xhol’s first album (under that name at least) is pretty much that distilled essence, consisting of two twenty-plus minute pieces recorded live in July of 1970. The band had originally intended it as the live half of a live/studio double LP, but ended up releasing the two halves separately. The basic elements of Xhol are Tim Belbe’s saxophone (frequently altered by wah-wah pedal and other devices) and Gerhard Egmont von Brevern on keyboards (mostly organ, also with effects). The two are backed by bass and drums, with no guitar in sight. The improvisations are along the lines of what Soft Machine did for their Third album, though less inspired, and sometimes verge on free blowing. The second track features some near-annoying vocals begging for sexual favors from an unnamed source, though luckily that only occupies a few of the twenty minutes. For this CD reissue, a third twenty minute piece recorded in a studio in 1974 has been added. This must have been a one-off session, since Xhol had broken up two years prior; three of the four original members appear, augmented by others from the scene. It’s very much in the same vein, however, and does not sound out of place despite the addition of flute.
Related artist(s): Xhol Caravan / Xhol / Soul Caravan
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more